# [×ªÔØ]Detroit Cuts Path for Driverless Cars

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Firms Back $10 Million Testing Ground for Self-Driving Vehicles Success could boost Detroit¡¯s ability to compete in emerging tech war ENLARGE Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, discusses the university's complex for testing automated vehicles in Ann Arbor. PHOTO: BRYAN MITCHELL/BLOOMBERG NEWS By MICHAEL RAMSEY July 19, 2015 7:41 p.m. ET 59 COMMENTS ANN ARBOR, Mich.¡ª Toyota Motor Corp. and a clutch of other companies are backing a$10 million testing ground at the University of Michigan for self-driving vehicles, an investment that could boost Detroit¡¯s ability to compete in the auto industry¡¯s emerging tech war.

The 32-acre facility, dubbed Mcity and opening Monday, will give the auto industry a hub that can be used by anyone researching autonomous vehicles.

In addition to being one of the few open-source test centers of its kind anywhere, it is also one of the few situated in a cold climate that could present challenges to self-driving cars.

¡°There is nothing else like it in the world,¡± said Peter Sweatman, director of the university¡¯s Mobility Transformation Center, a public-private research institute that includes the testing area.

The race to provide vehicles with more autonomous features or the capability to operate without driver intervention is one of the auto industry¡¯s primary pursuits, requiring billions of dollars in capital and a shift in how products are developed. The trend has attracted new players to the industry, includingGoogle Inc., while boosting the fortunes of companies, such as Israeli components-supplier Mobileye NV, that formerly filled niches.

The clout of Detroit auto makers has faded in recent decades, but Southeast Michigan and the state¡¯s biggest university house some of the industry¡¯s leading researchers, many corporate technical centers and a network of test facilities. Google¡¯s autonomous-vehicle testing activities in California and Texas have attracted a lot of publicity, but much of the development of these vehicles is being done in the Rust Belt by international auto companies with big operations near Detroit.

Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan is located, is already the testing site for 3,000 vehicles that have been outfitted with transmitters capable of vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, a technology that will hit roads within a year or so on General Motors Co.¡¯s Cadillac models. That test, which began in 2012, is the basis for a Transportation Department effort to push for wide deployment of the technology to reduce traffic and improve safety.

Much of the world¡¯s driverless-car research, which is done in facilities in Japan, Sweden, China and other nations, occurs in proprietary environments closed to outsiders. The University of Michigan¡¯s effort, which includes about four miles of roadways, is designed to simulate real-world situations as a variety of parties experiment with ideas.

ENLARGE

Toyota has a simulated urban environment in Japan, but it isn¡¯t open to other companies or researchers. In the U.S., Toyota has been joined by GM, Honda Motor Co., Delphi Automotive PLC and other auto companies in backing the venture. State Farm Automobile Insurance Co. is also behind the center, an indication that insurers are eager to understand liability issues related to autonomous vehicles.

Toyota, which employs more than 1,500 people at an engineering center near Ann Arbor, sees the facility as a legitimate alternative to testing on public roads.

¡°We have been using high-speed tracks for a lot of safety testing, but now our focus as an industry is how to cope with traffic accidents at intersections,¡± Hideki Hada, a Toyota manager based in Michigan, said. ¡°We cannot test prototypes on public roads for a variety of reasons.¡±

The companies that have tested driverless cars on public streets have the advantage of gathering real-world data and interacting with other vehicles in a way that¡¯s not possible in a closed-course setting. Google has gathered mountains of data by testing autonomous Lexus RX350s on the streets of Palo Alto, but that testing comes with a risk of accidents and damage to costly prototypes.

The Mcity¡¯s four miles of roadways include highway on-and-off ramps, roundabouts, railway crossings, underpasses, dirt roads and cobblestones to challenge the vehicles¡¯ computer brains. ¡°The philosophy is that you can go very quickly from a downtown block to the freeway,¡± Mr. Sweatman said.

In addition, the track should give researchers a place to test autonomous vehicles in rain or snow without endangering other drivers. Some of the prototypes¡¯ components¡ªincluding Lidar sensors that use lasers to create a rich, localized map essential for steering the vehicle¡ªdon¡¯t currently function as well in inclement weather.

¡°To me, the special cases¡ªbad lighting conditions, road conditions, bad weather conditions¡ªare the things we really need to work on,¡± said Raj Rajkumar, a Carnegie Mellon University professor and a developer of software for autonomous vehicles. ¡°Testing at a course like this is how we make these things more reliable.¡±

Write to Michael Ramsey at michael.ramsey@wsj.com

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1 hour ago

Too many posts advocating eventual forcible transition to "self-driving cars." I can see that some of them aren't the tasteless jokes they should be; they're serious.

The nonsense of forcing people into "self-driving cars" is no different in its arrogance, trespass, Constitutional violations, and folly than "gun control."

What the Democrat-Statists can't understand is, "It's MY life. I decide how to protect it and live it. Not you."  Understand that or not, you'll force nothing of the kind on me.  Good luck.

1 hour ago

Before everyone gets all wet and gooey over self-driving cars ... there will need to be some very down and dirty legal spade work to overcome what in most states is the requirement of drivers in cars to be in control of the vehicle at all times and is held legally accountable as well as responsible.  And before any one fires a nasty note ... think about the little box you will be doing it on and think about how many times that little keypad devil has given you trouble or had a brain fart if not a crash ... I had responsibility some years ago for field actions (including recalls) for a major auto company and the vast majority of all field actions from dealer notices to outright recalls at that time involved engine/transmission/powertrain software ...  in some cases getting the same vehicles in six times ...

1 hour ago

Agreed.  Along the same lines, I foresee massive lawsuits against any and all "self-driving car operators" and manufacturers who injure or kill people while "patently not within their control."  The responsibility for causing the carnage shall still rest in the usual places: drivers, owners, and manufacturers.

2 hours ago

Go Blue !

4 hours ago

@Mike Reinschmidt - I thought I was the only one who felt that way about getting the little things right!  When something can be checked with just a few taps and a mouse click, I wonder what else the author got wrong for lack of trying?

4 hours ago

5 hours ago

I understand the concern about losing the fun of driving; I get that.  But look at the lives that will be saved.  I'm thinking of the horrible accident this weekend in Long Island where four 23 year old girls were killed by a drunk driver while out celebrating one of the girl's upcoming wedding. Those lives could have been saved.  Also, think the back-ups caused (and man-hours wasted) by some simple fender-bender where we all rubber-neck and cause unnecessary delays.  All that is a thing of the past w/ this technology.  This will revolutionize traffic-flow which will eventually allow for less fuel, more productive time, better time-management and a higher quality of life all around.  We should all push for quicker implementation.  Until then, I've got to run because I have an hour-and-fifteen minute commute home.

1 hour ago

I see lives lost, not saved.  Where I live, that's a certainty.  You Democrats can't substitute any level of machinery or lack of machinery to counteract evil acts and intentions.  It's your "gun control mentality" searching for yet another realm to forcibly control with no authority to do so, regardless of the damage it creates.  You've decided ahead of time what's best for others, and so therefore, it must be.  I'm your implacable foe, and not the only one.  Good luck.

5 hours ago

I'm uncertain about all of this... I thoroughly enjoying driving and it is not something i want to allow to disappear.

5 hours ago

@Thomas Prehn I don't think anyone is going to take away your abilities to drive if you want to.  I view this as a big boon for the elderly or otherwise feeble.  An elderly person that might have to give up his keys at age 80, might now be able to go to age 90, as one example.

6 hours ago

All of the technology is being built into the car but I think some of it should be built into the roads. We have many highway construction standards, we should add standardized signaling devices along the roads which self-riving cars can use to stay on course even in heavy rain and snow, and to guide cars around exceptional situations such as temporary construction zones.

6 hours ago

If we can hurl a chunk of metal out into space that can take photos of Pluto with 2006 technology, then I think it would be a bad bet to assume we can't make a driverless car.

9 hours ago

Question two: Why do people assume self-driving cars will require slower speeds?

Have you ever been on the Interstate in traffic?  Usually it's humans following one another too closely that lead to traffic jams.  Or humans passing, trying to get 3 car lengths ahead of the person at their side.

Self-driving cars will fix a lot of this stupidity clogging up our freeways.

9 hours ago

I have a question for all those people who fear self-driving cars because they "think that they will be hacked."

You don't think your car today can be hacked?  Computers control everything in modern cars.  Your brakes could be disabled once you hit 70 MPH, theoretically.

There's nothing preventing these things from happening today, so why aren't they happening?

One, it would be very hard to do this.  Two, it's not of much interest to people because you have to go to so much work to affect one person.

So please, think a little, put away the tin foil hats, stop watching sci-fi, and enjoy the future - self-driving cars are coming fast.

9 hours ago

Won't be long before the government will be dictating most everything regarding auto travel.

Remember the government mandated toilets that have to be flushed twice.

10 hours ago

Lane 1 - 100 mph

Lane 2 - 75 mph

Elon Musk, "Self driving cars,10 times safer. We will get to a point where only self driving cars allowed on freeways. Much higher speeds, fewer or zero accidents."

A few years away but Tesla's will be self driving Next month. Curious why not mentioned.

6 hours ago

No, Tesla Is Not Releasing a 'Self-Driving' Car This Summer

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2478556,00.asp

4 hours ago

www.teslamotors.com

4 hours ago

@LARRY FRITZLAN Please post an actual and factual link, Larry.  Really, I would love it if it were true.

11 hours ago

If  "Human freedom" includes our right to tantrums, aggression, stupidity, arrogance, greed, incivility, exploitation, and chaos; then hopefully the better attributes of curiosity, creativity, consistency, concern will prevail. Democracies do a pretty good job of navigating among conflicting attributes. Government is what makes it work. But not government by itself, but government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Concerned citizens in a representative government.

Such government once imposed on citizens to build a meeting house in the center of town -- if they wanted a town. Build it yourself. And they did. We've come a long way.

We have cities because we no longer depend on outhouses.

We have mobility and prosperity because we no longer depend on horses.

We have employment & leisure because highway and Interstate transportation systems allow us to live and work where we want yet still maintain family ties

Self-driving cars will free the confused and bleary-eyed.

11 hours ago

I'll skip over engineering, safety and other such issues and just ask: will the police and Children's Services folks will be arresting parents who send their driverless cars to return their "free range children" home from an afternoon at the park?

12 hours ago

One short section of roadway will have pot-holes to simulate real Michigan roads. Lidar does not do well in rain, so Google located in the drought-prone areas of Texas and California. Mcity appears to be a real-world test facility for car-mounted sensors than a test facility for cars.

12 hours ago

When you take a cab, are you concerned about the color, handling or styling?   The auto companies know that if their cars become cabs, they will all start to look the same.

6 hours ago

@Ronald Horner  Currently cabs are used quite rarely by most people.  However, if you decide to replace your car with a summoned robo car, then you will think more about what kind of car you ride in.  Stepping out of a Bentley will still have the status that stepping out of a Honda won't.

13 hours ago

Eventually the technology will get there. And so will the hackers.

14 hours ago

Palm trees will grow wild in Kalispell before "self-driving vehicles" are owned anywhere up here.  Black ice.  40 below zero.  Steep grades.  40+ MPH winds sustained.  Perfectly horizontal blowing snow, always across the road, never down the road.  I've been navigating that for over half a century, and there's a feel and visual anticipation built into human judgment and experience that no machine can ever come close to matching.  Not that I would trust my life to.

I'll leave the "self-driving vehicles" to those in urban, tropical, Democrat-Occupied Zones.  Those with no concept of Liberty or safety.

10 hours ago

I'm not sure I want to underestimate technologies exponentially advancing trajectory.

1 hour ago

Nor do I, sir.  I'm simply the implacable foe of the Democrats in this thread eager to force "self-driving vehicles" onto all of us, while dreaming up all manner of as yet baseless reasons.  Irrelevant baseless reasons at that, relative to Liberty and a person deciding for themselves how they want to run their very lives.

5 hours ago

@Robert Eisenhauer - you sound like one of those who can see Russia from their backdoor and are therefore qualified to run our country's foreign policy. You must also hanker for Palin to run for President.

1 hour ago

And you sound like one of those Democrats who doesn't know the difference between Tina Fey and her "Russia" comedy skit line, and Sara Palin, the woman who refused to murder her unborn child...to your disappointement, no doubt.  More importantly, you don't care about whether an actress said that or not.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/palin/russia.asp

Facts and reality mean nothing to you Democrats.  Liberty sure doesn't!

15 hours ago

Got to love it! No more drunk driving, no more high insurance, no more Ambulance chasing lawyers, no more DMV. Wheres the negatives?

14 hours ago

@Richard Dole no more freedom?

13 hours ago

@Richard Dole Death by software hack.

6 hours ago

@Richard Dole Those are all positives and there will be even more positives if the enthusiasm does not outrun the reality.

The negatives:

Caller: "My self driving car just ran over a group of kids."

IT Department: "Well, it SHOULD'VE worked."

16 hours ago

No more DWO or DWF! Awesome. And Happy Hour doesn't have to wait till 5 PM...what was the question to which self-driving cars are the answer?

17 hours ago

I'll wait for the fifth generation software and only activate it when I want to sleep while cruising down the highway, or while I'm stuck in bumper-bumper traffic. Other than that, I don't like being a passenger.

17 hours ago

If the self driving car become part of the optional equipment package when I get a new car; I going to buy that option and when I am weak, uncoordinated, having slower responds time  and my eyesight becomes weaker; I have a free taxi services built-in to my car  that has lower insurance cost too!  I will be just as mobile as I am now in 20 years with a self-driving car!  Self-reliance with help of technology!

18 hours ago

I need this technology before my future unborn children turn 16. Thinking back on how I drove as a teenager, lord help me if my children take the wheel.

Car makers, get crackin'. I want my automated cars!

19 hours ago

Japan took over cameras, auto manufacturing etc back in the 60's & 70's, primarily by touring US MFG plants.

I'd keep everything under wraps and not let others take the lead.

13 hours ago

@DAVID HALEY Where have you been?  Detroit is NOT in the lead on this.

9 hours ago

@Warren Hall @DAVID HALEY I didn't say Detroit was in the Lead.

I'm merely saying Japan is perfecting it behind closed doors & Detroit is giving it away for free, which is one reason why they have been left behind the last 30 years.

4 hours ago

I think Silicon Valley is a generation ahead of both of them.

20 hours ago

The internet of cars. What could possibly go wrong.

20 hours ago

Quite amazed at those people that think this is the greatest thing since electric starters and automatic transmissions.  Be careful what you wish for, for once these vehicles are unleashed on the road speed limits for ALL vehicles will be adjusted downwards, and there will be a great push to get the standard vehicles off the road (think a massive 'cash for clunkers' program) and to get everything converted to a driverless mode.  And that means MASSIVE government intrusion as to what type of vehicle you can buy, where and when you can travel.  Want to travel into the city at 8am?  No can do, too crowded and congested, you'll have to leave at 7am or 9am.  Better yet, take mass transportation or move into dense city housing.  The government will control when your vehicle is authorized for operation. This whole thing is a bad idea in the making, justified as a time saving and life saving exercise.  Do not believe it, the government is itching to control how, where & when you travel.

19 hours ago

@Frank Dickof  Wow did you come up with all that nonsense yourself?

You dropped your tinfoil hat. Let me pick it up for you :)

13 hours ago

@Gregory Worthington @Frank Dickof You may not like hearing that you are stupid enough to forego your freedom, but the History goes exactly in Frank's direction. The government would control your speed, would control when you could drive (don't believe me? Wait for the generalization of the demand-response system in your house to manage the electricity demand! The government, via the utilities will decide when you can run your laundry or your dishwasher!) and would keep track of everything you do in the name of safety and efficiency!

People like you, eager to have more time to spend on facebook (or tweeter! #SleepWhileDriving) will gladly accept. Eventually, thanks to "democracy" (i.e., tyranny of idiots!), we'll soon be a step further on the road to serfdom!

13 hours ago

@Gregory Worthington @Frank Dickof Wait til Obamacare tells you that you are overweight and have lost your pizza, beer and hamburger privileges until you get in line.

18 hours ago

@Frank Dickof

Electric starters and automatic transmissions wouldn't hold a candle compared to the invention of automated cars.

A glance at the current accident statistics should be clear. Humans are largely terrible drivers.

"""

In 2010, there were an estimated 5,419,000 crashes (30,296 fatal crashes), killing 32,999 and injuring 2,239,000. The 32,479 traffic fatalities in 2011 were the lowest in 62 years (1949).

""" src: iihs

That's some serious government paranoia. I'm sure the internet is also concerning to you, that it allows the government to monitor user activity. Best get working on weaning Americans off the dangers of the internet!

14 hours ago

@andrew huang @Frank Dickof Because you believe your automated car will be much better?! You really believe there will be a system that will be able to learn real time how to drive in ever changing road and weather conditions and adapt to the people surrounding you? It is a little more difficult than a cell phone! Here, no freezing allowed, no time for reboot!!

14 hours ago

I know you're right.

Folks like you and I will be excoriated by slaves and slave masters with no tolerance to those who hold to history's lessons and a firm grasp of "Government is fire," as George Washington described.  And Democrats are gasoline on that fire.

22 hours ago

I'd like to see a Google car try the Eisenhower Expressway during a snow storm.  It's relatively easy to get around when it's sunny and limited traffic. And what can someone with a laser pointer do to it's navigation?

22 hours ago

As long as GM and Chrysler are not allowed to make them, I thing driverless cars would be OK for urban areas.

22 hours ago

I'd like to see an estimate of when the car companies really believe that driverless cars will be deployed.  My guess is that it will be around 2020.

22 hours ago

The first thing to be done with these autonomous cars is to replace all of the taxi drivers, thus sending more low-skilled, low-education people to the welfare department.

23 hours ago

One concern is autonomous vehicles doing the unexpected even if it is the right thing to do.

1 day ago

I can't wait.  Not buying a new car until they are here.

13 hours ago

@Jeff Seders "I can't wait.  Not buying a new car until they are here."

Lets parse that post.

"I can't wait" which infers you want to run out and buy one now.

"Not buying a new car until they are here" which acknowledges that they are not currently available.

So you are going to have to wait.  Sorry.

http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-2374-906935.html

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